by Jonas Terrado
Games Tomorrow (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Meralco vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Alaska
Five teams in the hunt for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup have to be at their sharpest going to the final three weeks of the eliminations if they want to better their respective chances.
Rain or Shine (7-1), TNT KaTropa (6-1) and Alaska (6-1) have emerged strong favorites to gain the elusive quarterfinal bonus, Meralco (5-2) is not far behind while defending champion San Miguel (3-3) has an outside chance of securing a top two position.
Of the five, only Rain or Shine has secured a place in the quarters while the four others are almost assured of clinching their spots later on.
The top two teams after the elims earn the twice-to-beat against the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds while the third to sixth placers play a best-of-three series. Missing the top two, however, won’t mean that the pathway toward a title would be more difficult than those with carrying the incentive.
ROS has already posted its best record since the departure of coach Yeng Guiao for NLEX two years ago, but a strong elims finish would bode well for the Elasto Painters’ title aspirations. They will face Phoenix on Saturday, Meralco on June 24 and TNT on July 7.
TNT is also aiming to produce its best elims mark since the start of coach Nash Racela’s reign in 2016. The KaTropa were playing the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok at presstime before facing San Miguel on Saturday, Meralco on June 22 and Rain or Shine on July 7.
Alaska has shown it can win games despite the suspension of Calvin Abueva and rookie Jeron Teng’s recovery from a bar incident less than two weeks ago.
But emerging star Vic Manuel and the rest of Alaska will have their work cut out against NLEX tomorrow, Meralco on Sunday, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on June 24 and Phoenix on July 6.